Thursday, 21 May 2009

Walking on Tenerife: No Entry...Fact or Fiction?

One of the great things about walking on Tenerife is that there are very few barriers to where you can hike. Unlike Britain where some farmers can make you feel about as unwelcome as a fox in the hen shed, the countryside here is, on the whole, a place to be enjoyed by everyone.

Clearly there are places which are off limits and common sense and ‘privado’ signs should help avoid embarrassing forays into people’s fincas, but apart from that walkers are free to explore the great outdoors…except for when there are Cabildo workers in the area and paths are suddenly blocked off.

It’s happened to us on a few occasions, the trouble is you never know that a path is going to be closed until you reach the sign telling you and that can be quite a way into the route. Take yesterday for example. We’d been walking for an hour and a half, having ascended a muscle challenging and lung busting 600 metres, before we found our progress blocked by a sign across the forest path which read “Alto! – No Pasar”.

There had been no previous warning, nada and suddenly here was a sign which was ostensibly telling us to turn back. Having come this far without any prior warning that the route was closed, we weren’t happy bunnies.

So what do you do when this happens?

Well we’ve been here before and have an idea what signs to look for to determine if it’s a serious warning, or just something designed to put you off so that you don’t disturb the forest workers doing whatever it is they’re doing.

In this case there were two things that told us that this might not be a serious deterrent to continuing:

  1. There was no actual evidence of any forest workers in the area.
  2. We’d passed some Spanish hikers coming the other way and they didn’t mention that the path was closed.
We eased ourselves around the path-block and continued on our way.

Sure enough, apart from a couple of bags of cement and three green forestry sacks, there were no sign of any workmen; nine times out of ten there never are, so you can come to your own conclusions about what purpose these signs actually serve. A few kilometres, and half a dozen hikers later, we came to the ‘sister’ sign warning walkers coming in the opposite direction. In this case there was no reason at all for blocking the path.

If you don’t know an area very well, it’s a difficult call as to whether you pay attention to these signs if you’re unlucky enough to come across one. The best I can advise is to apply common sense.

If there is any work taking place, there will be workmen around and they’ll tell you where you can and can’t go, but they’re never heavy about it, so most of the time it’s worth taking the chance and continuing.

Like I said, we’ve encountered this on maybe four or five occasions…on not one of those did we actually have to turn back.

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